New customers are certainly hard to come by, and the last thing you want to do is lose a customer. That said, all customers are not the same. I’ve often used the phrase, all customers are good, some are just good-er than others. A strategic account review is designed to help you separate the good, from the good-er. This review helps to remove the clutter and complexity of trying to be all things to all people.
What are You Really Good at
What are you good at, knowing that you can’t be good at everything. Taking a page from Jim Collins, where do you make money – what drives your engine; what can you be the best at; and where is your passion – what do you really like to do? If you aren’t sure of the answers to these questions, it’s probably a good place to start. Once you have some clarity on this, it’ll be easier to evaluate your customers.
Aggregate Your Clients
How will you compare your customers? Please don’t try to do this one at a time, especially not alphabetically. I would also refrain from focusing only on those that you like. Three options to group your customers are by channel – how do you get the work, by industry vertical, and by annual revenue or profitability. It’s good to start with your top 25 or 50 customers, or top 100 at the most.
Start asking questions about the customer relationship you have with each customer. Begin with asking whether they value what you do, and how do they benefit from the value you provide? What intangible do they get by working with you that they might not get anywhere else? Remember, their perception trumps reality on these issues.
What Can You Learn
When customers are demanding, the initial response is to wince. In realty, those are the customers that end up pushing, or pulling you to be your best. You have customers today that asked you to do something way back when. You had no experience doing it, but you tried it and now it’s a fan favorite, and a profitable segment of your business. So, ask yourself, what can you learn from this customer?
Remember the line about all customers are good, well, some are really good. They represent an important portion of your revenue. And then there are others, that may not be on the top ten list yet. But, based on your experience, and what you know about them, they may have the potential to become great customers.
Wrap It in A Bow
Based on what you’ve uncovered, you now can create an objective account review for your business. You’ll gain clarity on which accounts, after taking everything into consideration, are truly profitable, significant, or otherwise important to your business, or not. As you complete your work, develop an account strategy for these accounts. These are the tactics that you’ll do intentionally over the next 90-180 days to either grow an existing top account or have a plan to take a junior account higher up on the list.
What do you think, are you up for it? Try it and if you have any questions or revelations, let us know. If this is part of your current planning process, what insight could you share with others. Let us know, and good luck.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic direction, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Printing Impressions.